Saturday, March 21, 2009

New York Post Editorial



I'm up here at 34000 feet composing my final post of the trip. Love the cut and paste feature of blogger.

Two interactions I neglected to include earlier:
Between Battery Park and Wall Street, we got a little misdirected, and we ended up in an elevator. With a drunk, mentally ill old guy, muttering under his breath about his unsuccessful foraging in the garbage. He was stinky and grovelly harmless. When we got off the elevator (literally one of those half-a-floor rides between subway levels), Heidi turned to me and said, "That was really creepy!" When I explained that he was drunk and crazy, she said, "Oh, I thought he was on drugs!" It wasn’t dangerous at all, but it was a little bit adventerous.

As we were walking through Grand Central Station yesterday, we were approached by a darling Orthodox Jewish boy about 21 or so years old. He immediately convinced us that he wasn’t trying to sell us anything, but he had something for us. Because we were Jewish, right? ( I feel such a kinship with these other members of the House of Israel. That may sound hokey, but it’s true. I just know that when they’re given the truth, they will embrace it and live it.) Anyway, he dug through his bag and pulled out four tealights, telling us that they were for Shabbat. And I said, tomorrow. He quickly corrected me and said, tonight. Oops. Felt kinda dumb. But he was nice, and he looked at Heidi and said, "You are beautiful, you know that? Never let anyone ever tell you or convince you otherwise." I can’t express how this small experience touched me. I figure that if I give him a few moments of my time running through the subway, maybe someone somewhere will extend the same kindness to our missionaries.

Epiphany #56—New Yorkers aren’t rude. They’re busy.
I can’t tell you how many times we were offered help by people, even just a guy getting on the subway and giving me tips on where it stops. They just have places to go, people to see, plays to watch, children to tend. As I was among them for the last few days, I realized something. I’m a native New Yorker, just born and raised in the West. Busy, but always willing to help. If you can get me to stop for five seconds!

Now for the politics that have been swirling through my brain for the past few days. I haven’t really watched the news or read the paper, so I don’t know what’s going on with the economy or Congress, but I did have opportunity to see the other side of the coin.

It was slightly unnerving and unsettling to be in the midst of so much Obama-mania. Tshirts, buttons, bracelets, hats, mugs, magnets, even condoms, all bearing his image and slogans "Change." "Victory." "Obama 44." Everyone in the City loves him. Interacted with a few of these zealots. And they seemed normal enough. Not a one of them could see through my stony fa├žade to my flaming red soul.

The day that we spent touring the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and Ground Zero is when all of this came to a head.

I had what can only be described as a "patriotic experience" while visiting these places. I tried to think of another statue in the world that evokes such patriotism and love. I couldn’t. Reading immigrants’ feelings as they saw her standing sentinel in the harbor was moving. Seeing how the US and France bonded over the creating, building, fundraising, and shipping was interesting. And learning about all the struggles people made to get through Ellis Island was inspiring. I couldn’t get enough of their images and writings and stories. I felt bound to them. Forty percent of all Americans can trace some relative back through the Ellis Island migration. Even though I don’t have documented ancestors who came through there, I felt for them the way I feel for the pioneers who crossed the plains and endured persecution for the Gospel’s sake. Pride. Honor. Respect. Gratitude.
And then, I began to wonder.
Where has that attitude gone?
Where is the pride in our country? In who we are and what we stand for? Where did the fire to improve our circumstances through struggle and sacrifice go? What happened to hard work, brains, and ingenuity?
Would these hardworking men and women from around the world, who caught and sacrificed and lived the American Dream, be ashamed of us today? Ashamed of all the crazy spending and handout requests? Ashamed of attitudes like Michelle Obama’s, that for the first time in her adult life, she’s "proud to be an American"? Ashamed at how quickly we’ve forgotten the lessons of September 11th, 2001? Walking through those halls and circling that bustling construction site filled me with a sense of pride in my heritage. Pride in what my country stands for. "Mother of Exiles." Champion of the underdog. A place where a poor immigrant can live their dreams.
And I was filled with the desire to apologize to all of them. The twelve million that passed through Ellis Island. And the nearly three thousand that lost their lives at Ground Zero and in Washington. I was ashamed. Ashamed of the direction our country is headed. Ashamed of our change to an entitlement mentality. Ashamed of our government’s ineptitude. And yes, Michelle Obama. Ashamed of our president. Son of an immigrant. A man who worked himself up the ladder without nationalized healthcare and without socialization. Through prejudice and hate. A man who succeeded on the strength of his personality, his talents and his brains. He really exists as an example of living the American Dream, lived fully and freely. And now, he’s compromising those ideals all in the name of change. If America is so bad, what needs to change? Our government that oppressed him? Our financial system that encouraged him? Our education system that taught him? Freedom? Prosperity? Liberty? The pursuit of happiness?
Since when do these ideals need change? We’ve been the envy and the ally and the bank and the standard of the world for at least a century. Now it will all disappear in the name of change. And I feel powerless to stop it.

4 comments:

  1. WOW! That's all I've got right now because it's 2a.m., just WOW!
    But, even if it weren't 2 in the morning, I don't think I could add a darn thing to what you wrote. This is my new favorite of yours!

    ReplyDelete
  2. That was a very amazing post Jen. Thank you for sharing your perspective! Well stated! Do you mind if I pass it on?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Being from the Bay area, I'm pretty used to the Obama-mania, but I hope I never get used to the direction our country is taking lately.

    I'm trying to have faith that the innate good sense and pragmatism of Americans is still extant and kicks in at some point.

    Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I just wanted to point out that you're hot and also skinnier than Megan McCain.

    ReplyDelete